County reviews agreement for new JETS facility

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     It has been well over a year since discussion started on the proposed Jones County JETS facility in Monticello. The county is working with ECICOG (East Central Iowa Council of Governments) in applying for a grant to build the facility. The county would purchase the land, with a suggested location along John Drive north of Monticello.

     During the March 7 board of supervisor meeting, County Attorney Phil Parsons met with the board to review a draft agreement with ECICOG and lease for JETS.

     Parsons urged the board to read over the two documents provided before a decision was made on the project.

     “I am still working some details out with ECICOG,” warned Parsons.

     Parsons was honest saying he is not in favor of how the agreement was worded, with ECICOG owning the JETS building for 30-40 years before it would end up as county property.

     “The issue,” he said, “is that ownership is not stipulated in the agreement.”

     ECICOG, the transportation authority, would apply for the DOT transportation grant. The county funds JETS. Parsons said the keeper of the funds should also be the keeper of the building, however it would appear that the county is one with the liability.

     “We buy the land, front all of the money, bare the burden and risk, yet they (ECICOG) controls the specifications,” outlined Parsons.

     Once the JETS building is complete, ECICOG would reimburse the county for up to 80 percent of the project costs, and continue to own the facility.

     “Why should the county bare the risk and liability if we’re not going to own the building for 30 years?” questioned Parsons.

     Supervisor Wayne Manternach asked whether the maintenance and upkeep would also be up to the county during those 30 years.

     “Yes,” answered Parsons, “the tenant is responsible for everything, even though we don’t own it. But, we’ll act like we own it.”

     The board said if the county is responsible for the structure, could the county also stipulate who they want in terms of contractors.

     “I’d like some clarification on that,” said Manternach of language added to the agreement. “If the project was let in Jones County, there would be more local bids.”

     Supervisor Joe Oswald asked if ECICOG ceased to exist during the 30 years, is there a stipulation about what would happen to the facility.

     “There is nothing in regards to termination,” said Parsons.

     “If they no longer exist,” said Manternach, “it should be our building.”

     Parsons said while the agreement needs to be in place just to get the project off the ground, he does see several items that still need to be addressed.

     The roughly $225,500 grant awarded to ECICOG has to be spent by October 2017.

     “If we are going to do this,” suggested Oswald, we need to keep moving on it pretty quick.”

     Supervisor Jon Zirkelbach, who sits on the ECICOG board, said he would speak with them about a possible grant extension if needed.

     “This is something totally new for them,” he said.

     JETS Manager Kathy Koerperich said she was aware that Benton County was looking to build a similar transportation facility soon, applying for the same DOT grant.


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